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CNN's Great Race; London Charity Gala; Big Storm Threatens Thanksgiving Travel

Aired November 27, 2013 - 12:30   ET



MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN CO-ANCHOR: As if you didn't already know, a major storm making things messy for literally millions of people throughout the eastern section of the country on this, the busiest travel day of the year.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CO-ANCHOR: The storm is causing roads to ice over, bumping thousands of planes off scheduled flight times happening just as many people across the country are trying to get out for Thanksgiving.

So here, you're going to want to take a look at this. These are live pictures from some of the country's major airports and interstates, AAA saying that about 40 million Americans are driving pretty long distances to get to their Thanksgiving dinners, and more than 3 million others are actually flying.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nothing will keep me from that table, not from the Thanksgiving table.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're very happy.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because, as much as we love O'Hare, we'd like to not spend Thanksgiving here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just looking at that weather, that big green, pink slop coming our direction, time to get out of the way.


MALVEAUX: I guess you do it for the food, but the family, too, huh?

HOLMES: The family, yes. Loved ones and family, for many people.

We've got CNN crews in position across the country covering this storm like no one else. Just have a look at that lineup. Do stay with us throughout the day. We've got constant updates. You'll find out what's going on right here.

MALVEAUX: And Shannon Travis is in Pennsylvania. Jennifer Gray in the CNN Severe Weather Center.

I want to start off with you, Shannon. Do you see a lot of snow in Pittsburgh? How are you doing out there? It's a little chilly, I can tell already.

SHANNON TRAVIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A little chilly, Suzanne, and for anybody who thinks it's quaint to have a snowy Thanksgiving, kind of consider this Mother Nature's gift. But obviously, no one should be fooled, because this can be dangerous stuff.

It's coming down. It's been coming down, on and off, here in Pittsburgh. They're expecting potentially five-to-nine inches over the next few hours, between last night and what dropped. I just want to show you where we are. We're near the airport, but we're at an intersection of road, Suzanne, that we've been literally monitoring all day.

Traffic has been moving, but it seems as if the cars are moving a little bit slowly. We have noticed a number of crews out with salt trucks and plows to make sure that that road stays plowed.

And let me just show you one other thing, Suzanne. Look at where I'm standing right now. This road right here, clear as ever. That's because of the crews with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation that have been out in force. We've been driving around seeing them with these plows and salt trucks. They've been doing a pretty good job.

But, of course, we'll have to wait and see how the snow comes down and if it will snarl traffic any more than it has.


MALVEAUX: All right, thank you. Appreciate that. Try to stay warm there.

HOLMES: He looks miserable. He looks -- no getting back if the truck either. You got to stay out there for the rest of the day.

MALVEAUX: We've got to get you one of those heavy, CNN jackets.

HOLMES: He'll jump in the truck -

MALVEAUX: Those will do the job.

HOLMES: -- in about three minutes from now.

Jennifer Gray, meteorologist at CNN's Weather Center in New York monitoring the forecast and flights around the country. AAA, Jen, says more than 3 million people flying to Thanksgiving destinations. It always freaks me out, looking at that map when you've got the planes up. There's too many!

JENNIFER GRAY, AMS METEOROLOGIST: I know. It's very freaky. But each one of these little blue dots indicates a plane. This is actual, current time. And about 6,000 planes in the air right now, so I can guarantee you, all the passengers on these planes, they're thankful because they're going somewhere. They may be a little late because of delays, but at least they are in the air. We are still seeing, though, some delays, LaGuardia, just under an hour; about the same for JFK; Philly, just under two hours.

And so while those delays still in place, hopefully things will start to get off the ground a little quicker as this system continues to push off the coast.

It's still a rainmaker though for coastal areas. We're seeing D.C., New York, Boston, still with that steady rain. Most of the snow has tapered off. But still, that rain throughout the afternoon. We could see anywhere from one-to-two additional inches around the Washington, D.C., area through the afternoon, two-to-four as you get up towards Boston through the afternoon and evening hours.

But the good news about this storm system is it's getting out of here. This low will continue to ride up the East Coast and then push on out.

This is New York City, 8:00 tonight. The rain should have pushed out of the area. So by tomorrow morning, Thanksgiving, we should see the sun come back out.

The only problem, guys, will be the winds, and so that's what we're going to be worried about, all eyes on the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, temperatures in the morning, 27, with a high of only 34. And get this northwest winds at 14-to-24-miles-per-hour. When you factor all that in, the wind chill for tomorrow afternoon will feel like the low 20s.

MALVEAUX: So Jennifer, I've got a quick question for you. I'm traveling tomorrow. I'm headed to the D.C. area. Am I going to be OK?

GRAY: You should be fine if all the planes have caught up. That's going to be the only problem. You know, the delays, a lot of times, cause that snowball effect, so you know, if planes can catch up, at least sky conditions will be much improved by tomorrow.

HOLMES: You're getting your own personal travel -


HOLMES: -- and winter advisory report here.

MALVEAUX: I'm taking advantage of Jennifer's assignment. I'm like hey.

HOLMES: (Inaudible) Mrs. Snoopy, so try to get him back for later on, Jennifer. Good to see you.

MALVEAUX: Good to see you.

And, Shannon, thank you very much, out of Pittsburgh. Appreciate it.

HOLMES: Get back in the truck, Shannon. MALVEAUX: Speaking of the busiest airport in the world, want you to check out for a look at the latest weather, plus, what it's like behind the scenes in the airport there. Go to the website. Check it out. Pretty cool.

HOLMES: It's fascinating, actually. Yeah, 95 million passengers a year.

All right, for the latest weather updates, do stick with us here at CNN. Just look at the bottom of your screen. Yeah, right there. You're going to see the weather conditions and temperatures for cities across the country, so you'll be up to date.


And coming up, also, a top Hollywood producer who was behind the movies "Mr. And Mrs. Smith" and "12 Years a Slave" admits to living a secret life. The bombshell confession, up next.


MALVEAUX: Now to a bombshell confession from one of Hollywood's hot shot producers.

Arnon Milchan has produced a ton of popular movies, right? We're talking about "Pretty Woman, "L.A. Confidential," the "Fight Club," just to name a few.

But there is one thing that we didn't know about Milchan. It turns out he used to be a spy. That's right.

CNN entertainment correspondent Nischelle Turner joins us on this revelation. Really?



TURNER: Really. Yes, Suzanne really.

This is the first time that Arnon Milchan has spoken publicly about this. And I know it kind of blows your mind. But this story, his story, sounds like one of the plot lines from the movies that he produces.


TURNER: Justin Timberlake, Vince Vaughn, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, just a few of the stars Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan has rubbed shoulders with.

But it's his story that should be made into a movie. The Israeli-born businessman behind hits like "12 Years a Slave" --

RICHARD GERE, ACTOR, "PRETTY WOMAN": I have a business proposition for you. MALVEAUX: -- "Pretty Woman" --

BRAD PITT, ACTOR, "FIGHT CLUB": Come on. Hit me, before I lose my nerve.

TURNER: -- and "Fight Club" says he spent years as an Israeli secret agent and arms dealer.

In a stunning interview that aired Monday on an Israeli investigative program, Milchan detailed how he was recruited in the 1960s to Israel's Bureau of Scientific Relations where he helped gather technology to further Israel's still unacknowledged nuclear program, saying, quote, "I did it for my country, and I'm proud of it.

Milchan moved to Hollywood in the 1970s, but he suggested his efforts on behalf of the Israeli government didn't end completely.

Milchan indicated other big Hollywood players were also involved, saying, quote, "When I came to Hollywood, I detached myself completely from my physical activities to dedicate myself to what I really wanted, film-making, but sometimes it gets mixed up."

The 68-year-old Milchan owns New Regency Films and has produced more than 120 movies, working closely with directors such as Martin Scorsese and Oliver Stone. He forged an especially close relationship with actor Robert De Niro, who is also featured in the Israeli television program.

ROBERT DE NIRO, ACTOR: I did ask him once. We spoke about something, and he told me that he was an Israeli and that he, of course, would do these things for his country.

JOHN GOODMAN, ACTOR, "ARGO": So you want to come to Hollywood and act like a big shot without doing anything?


TURNER: In a story that seems reminiscent to last year's Oscar- winning, true-to-life film, "Argo," that depicted the CIA-Hollywood collaboration to rescue U.S. diplomats stuck in Iran, it's a safe bet Hollywood execs will be fighting to bring this story to the big screen, too.


TURNER: Now we did reach out to Arnon Milchan for comment about this revelation but told by his representatives that he was traveling in Europe and he was not available to comment at this time.

Now, guys, you know, we're gearing up for awards season in Hollywood right now. He is a producer on "12 Years a Slave," widely considered one of the best movies of the year. We just had had the Independent Spirit Award nominations yesterday. Those are kind of the best of the independent films that are made every year. And he was nominated as producer for "12 Years a Slave" for an Independent Spirit, so we'll have to see. He could very well be nominated for an Oscar this year for that.

MALVEAUX: You wonder how he had the time to do both, kind of juggle, if that was really the deal, right?

TURNER: A hundred-and-twenty movies, you know, under his belt, he definitely had some huge titles. So yeah, it is a wonder how he managed all those years to keep it a secret.

Now, Robert De Niro in that interview did say that he had asked him years ago about this, and he did say -- admit to Robert that he was doing it. So, you know, maybe some people knew, a couple of people knew, but he -- I have been covering -- I'll just say this.

I've been covering Hollywood, what goes on there for a very long time, not much surprises me. This is a surprise story.

MALVEAUX: This is a surprise. And it's worth a movie, too. I don't know. Maybe he'll do his own movie on his life.

Nischelle, thanks. Appreciate it.


HOLMES: I bet you can guarantee that.

And, also, still to come here, the Thanksgiving travel frenzy in full swing, and we are having a little bit of fun with it.

We got reporters racing from New York to D.C. to see who gets home first. There's the New Jersey Turnpike. We've got one of our guys in the car. And there he is. Another one is going by plane and the third by train. We'll check in with them coming up next.


HOLMES: All right, got live pictures for you now from right across the country. The Thanksgiving travel frenzy full effect now. We've got three reporters. It couldn't be less scientific, but we're sending them out on a quest here.

MALVEAUX: All right, so here's how it works. They're traveling from New York to D.C., We've got Nic Robertson. He's traveling by air. Lisa Desjardins, she is going to D.C. via train. She's on the train. Brian Todd traveling by car. And we've got Tom Foreman in D.C. tracking them.

So I want to start off with the guy behind the wheel, of course. He left New York 45 minutes ago. So, Brian, tell us where you are now.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Suzanne, we're just south of Elizabeth, New Jersey, approaching Metuchen, New Jersey, on the Jersey Turnpike. And my colleagues Tom Jurick (ph), Julian Cummings and I are in the car. We're having like the worst version you ever saw of the Chevy Chase vacation movies here in the car, but we're having fun.

What we are surprised with is the lack of a backup here. We thought it would be snarled coming out of New York City, snarled in northern New Jersey. It has been smooth sailing. Now, I'm not going to get overconfident that I'm going to beat my colleagues Nick and Lisa to Washington, but I like my chances right about now. Now, maybe around Baltimore I'll tell you something different.

But one staggering stat here is that it may stack the odds against me, AAA says 43.5 million people in the United States are going to drive 50 miles or more this holiday, this Thanksgiving eve and 43.4 million are going to travel 50 miles or more, 90 percent of them are driving. So that means volume on these roads is going to be very, very heavy and that may stack the odds against us here. But so far, so far on the New Jersey Turnpike, very smooth sailing and it's been surprising to us.

HOLMES: I wanted to ask, which one of you in the car is Clark Griswold, but we'll check in with you later, Brian.

Let's go to Tom Foreman tracking the competitors.

All right, Tom, Fill us in.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Here are three intrepid travelers. I'm glad to hear from Brian. He was lost for a long time. We didn't know where he was going to be. But these are the routes they're trying to cover. Roughly here's the distance involved, 227 driving miles.

So you see we've marked Brian's route here and Lisa's route, the train, very close here. Brian may be doing well now, but I'm telling you, I'm telling you, he better watch the rocky road down here around Philadelphia because it can back up there. Lisa has to watch for the one track terror, which means you go from all the tracks being open to only one. She could be really, really slowed down.

And Lisa, by the way, has already had a bit of an issue at Penn Station. She tweeted out this message. Look at this, no, my train says late. And that's her train right there. But only about 15 minutes late. So she may be able to recover from that.

The big story right now has been what's happening with our friend Nic, because if we go up here to a tighter view of New York City, I want you to look at what Nic did here. Nic left our target, which is CNN right here. He went in a cab up this way. He went sort of a circuitous route according to some of us, up here this side of the park, then through Central Park and then across to the other way, over this way, and then up through here. And he's made pretty good progress.

But the latest report we've heard from Nic is that right now he's right near LaGuardia here trying to beat the Queen's gambit. And Nic may have just picked up an advantage. He had about nine or 10 minutes to make his flight. He just sent a message that said the plane is about 10 minutes late. If he makes this flight, he suddenly gets a real advantage over Team Todd and Team Lisa down here as they try to race down the country. So I don't know who's going to make it now.

HOLMES: You'll have to - you'll have to forgive him, he's English and - FOREMAN: Yes, he is. Yes. Yes, but if you're in the airport -

MALVEAUX: A little bit of a roundabout way to get to LaGuardia, but -

HOLMES: Sorry, Tom.

FOREMAN: Yes, I agree. If you're in LaGuardia right now, though, you see him coming through, you're security, you're the people at the airport anyway, clear the way. This guy will be in a hurry.

HOLMES: Yes. Yes. And all you have to say is, he's English.

All right, thanks Tom. Tom Foreman there, appreciate that, in D.C. tracking the ways -

MALVEAUX: I've done that route, all three.


MALVEAUX: I think -- I think the train. I think the train's going to do it.

HOLMES: You do?

MALVEAUX: Yes. I think the train's going to beat all through. Yes, so we'll see.

HOLMES: I wouldn't like to be driving, that's for sure.

MALVEAUX: Yes. Well, we want you to tune into the afternoon and, of course, check and see how they're doing with all of this and how the travel is going during this holiday season, as well.

HOLMES: See who's close to "The Situation Room" a little later.

Well, coming up, Jon Bon Jovi had two high profile backup singers. We're talking about Taylor Swift and the one and only Prince William at a charity royal rock out, coming up next.


MALVEAUX: Love this part. Prince William showing off his karaoke skills. This is at a royal gala. This is in London last night. Check this out.


TAYLOR SWIFT, JON BON JOVI, PRINCE WILLIAM (singing): Hold on to what we've got. It doesn't make a difference if we make it or not.


MALVEAUX: Well, I don't know. Not too bad. I know that -- it is a little bad.

HOLMES: It sounds like noise to me. MALVEAUX: It's a little bad, actually. So, who's there with him? Of course, Taylor Swift, rocker Bon Jovi, of course, sharing the stage with the prince. The event at Kensington Palace for a charity event, of course, to benefit the homeless.

HOLMES: Yes, our royal correspondent Max Foster was also there.


MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it really was a glittering affair here at Kensington Palace. Jon Bon Jovi receiving an inspiration award for his work with the homeless in America. And Taylor Swift flying in, hot on the heels of her success at the American Music Awards.

TAYLOR SWIFT, SINGER: Well, I actually just kind of came right off stage after the AMAs and got on a plane and came here.

FOSTER: What was it like meeting Prince William?

SWIFT: Oh, wonderful. He's so cool.

FOSTER: Was he as you expected?

SWIFT: He's funny.

FOSTER: You've sung about being a princess before. The fairy tale. Is it what you expected here at the palace?

SWIFT: I think I really love the romanticized version of life when I write songs.

SWIFT (singing): Be the prince and I'll be the princess.

SWIFT (on camera): I like to make it more daydreamy than it is. I don't typically write about everyday occurrence or things that aren't, you know, life in slow motion and movie scenes and things like that because I just kind of would rather see love that way. But, you know, as far as actually getting to be at a palace, I have to say, it's - it really lives up to your expectations.

FOSTER: Then, inside, something nobody expected. Taylor Swift, Jon Bon Jovi and Prince William all on stage singing "Living on a Prayer."

On homelessness, it's a cause particularly close to the duke's heart.

JON BON JOVI, MUSICIAN: Like I said, our foundation in America deals specifically with the homeless issue. And it's very simple. We didn't need a scientist to create the cure and it just took money and willpower. I realized in a nutshell that we could really affect the homeless issue if, in fact, you know, we had the right people. And so for eight years now, we've built 350 houses. We've had a restaurant for three and a half years that feeds those in need.

FOSTER: Well, this is a cause very close to Prince William's heart. Center Point is a cause that his mother also supported. She famously took him along to homelessness shelters as a boy and he remembers that. He also spent a night sleeping on the streets of London himself. So he was more than happy to give up his garden for this gala event.

Max Foster, CNN, Kensington Palace, London.


HOLMES: All for a good cause.

MALVEAUX: You think he can sing?

HOLMES: Heck no.

Glittering event though, it was -

MALVEAUX: Glittering, glittering affair.

HOLMES: Yes, glittering, as only Max Foster can be.

All right, thanks for watching "AROUND THE WORLD" today.

MALVEAUX: CNN "NEWSROOM" starts right now.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Right now, a travel nightmare for millions of Americans trying to get home for Thanksgiving. We've got planes, trains and automobiles facing off against snow, ice and heavy rains.

Also right now, a Thanksgiving tradition is about to play out. President Obama pardons the Thanksgiving turkey live this hour. The question is, will Caramel or Popcorn get the official pardon?

Hello, I'm Jim Sciutto in Washington. Wolf Blitzer is off today.